India lost heftily to a clinical Australian team. After routing India initially when India batted first, Australia came out as though they played on a different track altogether!
In the end, India paid the price for (a) taking decisions by auto-pilot, (b) not taking enough risks with their team selection, (c) bad strokeplay.
This match and the decision-making in it was certainly a blot in Dhoni’s otherwise neat copy book, thus far.
No doubt Australia were the far superior team today. India had no answers in any of the key departments of the game.
However, a few questions need to be asked.
That India won batting first at Chandigarh did not immediately suggest that that was the only way India would win! So, it was a touch of foolhardiness (or needless bravery?) to choose to bat first on a dicey Vadodhra pitch that offered significant movement and variable bounce early on.
Two weeks back, in the context of the raied-out Bangalore ODI, Gilchrist the Australian captain for that game said that the Australians were keen to play on! In response, M. S. Dhoni said “Bahaduri aur bewakoofi mein bahut kum farq rehta hai” (there is a thin line between bravery and foolhardiness).
Well, Dhoni could repeat those same lines to himself in the context of his toss-decision. It appeared as if the decision was the equivalent of “rote learning” (memorisation by repetition).
It was clear to most who have been watching this series thus far that Zaheer Khan and Rahul Dravid have been out of sorts. The Vadodhra pitch was known to offer spin. A courageous decision would have meant that the currently struggling stalwarts had to sit out this do-or-die game. This would have required some courage. But it had to be done! A team that had fresh legs and fresh ideas in the sidelines — in the form of Rohit Sharma and S. Badrinath — had to employ them.
Lack of courage in the team composition and the toss-decision cost them the match even before a ball was bowled!
And then, if that wasn’t enough, the India bats proceeded to put forth their worst display on the field. Of coruse, the Australians bowled superbly. But there is no excuse for a lot of the on-field immaturity in the batting display.
All in all, this was a shoddy and unprofessional display by the Indians.
The team will require a dramatic re-think of its personnel, its balance and composition and its approach if it is going to make any impact in the rest of the series.